Russian Sales in New York

M. Nesterov. Vision of St. Sergius, When a Child. 1922. Oil on canvas. 91,1 И 109,2 cm. Estimate $2,000,000–3,000,000. Russian Art. Sotheby’s. New York, April 16–17

In the mid of April the two colossus of antiquarian market – auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s will hold traditional Russian sales. Now, when prices for Russian artworks are showing an upward tendency and the demand for the art form the East is constantly increasing, the organizers of the important sales are expecting the new price records.


The coming Sotheby’s Russian Art sale featuring 527 (to compare with 337 lots at Christie’s) will take place on April 16 and 17.

Sotheby’s experts anchor their hopes mainly upon artworks of the late XIX–early XX century. For example, a picture «Happy Arcadia» (1889–1890) by Konstantin Makovsky is estimated at impressive $800,000–1,200,000.

A painting «The Afghans» (1932) by A. Yakovlev is put up for sale with similar estimate $800,000–1,200,000. Interestingly, the piece has been recently discovered in a school in Massachusetts where it had been kept for more than fifty years. Paintings «The Inspector General» (circa 1935), «Allegorical Scene» by Konstantin Korovin and «Arsenal Hill at Night» (1908) by N. Pirosmani will be auctioned with the same estimate $800,000–1,200,000 too.

A picture «Woman with Umbrella» by Natalia Gontcharova (1919–1924) is estimated at $900,000–1,100,000, while «Religious Ceremony» by Nikolai Roerich is expected to fetch $900,000–1,200,000.

A Cameo Glass Vase. Imperial Glass Works. 1895–1917. Estimate $20,000–30,000. Russian Paintings and Works of Art. Christie’s. New York, April 18

Other highlights of the coming auction include «Smoking Woman on the Sofa» and ink on paper drawing «Simple Pleasures» (both pieces by Konstantin Somov, estimate $120,000–180,000 and $40,000–60,000 respectively. The sale also will feature six pictures by A. Kharlamov coming from various private collections. Pre-sale estimates of Kharlamov’s works range from $60,000–80,000 («Woman in Hunting Suite», 1884) to $700,000–900,000 («Flower Girls», 1885).

One of the most expensive lots at the auction is an author’s copy of Mikhail Nesterov’s painting «Vision of St. Sergius, When a Child», which is displayed at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. The auctioned picture dates 1922, it is smaller than the original (91,1 x 109,2 and 160,0 x 211,0 cm respectively). The lot is estimated at $2,000,000–3,000,000. The other star of the event is picture «Constantinople at Dusk» by Ivan Aivazovsky, probably, the most popular Russian artist in the West. The auctioned masterpiece is expected to realize $2,000,000–3,000,000 as well.

One of the auction’s sections is dedicated to contemporary Russian paintings and sculptures (60 pieces). The section of applied and decorative art features tableware, bronze pieces, icons, furniture, Faberge items and many more. The most expensive lot from the section is Faberge’s table clock by Henrik Wigstrom (estimate $1,500,000–2,000,000).

Scent-bottle. H. Vigstrom. Faberge Company. 1908–1917. Cornelian. Estimate $250,000–350,000. Russian Paintings and Works of Art. Christie’s. New York, April 18

Christie’s auction will surely attract attention of fans of Russian art worldwide too. The top-lot of the auction is a painting «Wall of Solomon» by celebrated artist V. Vereshchagin. Notably, the work was displayed in Moscow in the late February within the frames of pre-sale advertising campaign. The painting «visited» Russia for the first time then. «Wall of Solomon» was created in 1883–1884 in Paris. In 1891, during American tour it was sold for $2,500 at an auction. In 1920, the owners of the work passed the canvas to the Berkeley University Museum in California. The important lot is estimated at $3,000,000–5,000,000.

Highlights of the Christie’s sale include «Birsky Landscape» by L. Popova (circa 1916, $700,000–900,0000, «Portrait of the Old Jew» and «View of Jerusalem» by V. Polenov (estimate $25,000–35,000 and $8,000–12,000 respectively).

Russian Paintings and Works of Art also features drawings by A. Yakovlev (estimates range from $10,000–15,000 to $30,000–50,000), works by N. Roerich, K. Makovsky, N. Gontcharova, B. Grigoriev, I. Aivazovsky, etc.

Like at Sotheby’s, Christie’s applied art section includes Faberge pieces. Cornelian scent-bottle by Henrik Vigstrom is estimated $250,000–350,000.


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